Where to Stay in Santander: Discover the Best Places & Hotels

November 22, 2023

If you’re visiting Santander, Spain, soon, you’re probably stuck on which area or neighborhood to base yourself in. Well, it’s your lucky day – by the end of this article, you’ll know exactly where to stay in Santander.

Santander is a capital city in the Cantabria region, often overlooked by the likes of Madrid and Barcelona. As a result, not enough people are aware that it’s an ideal holiday destination in Spain. Tucked between sea and mountains, it’s filled with an air of aristocracy, adorned with pavement cafés, palaces, elegant mansions, and white-sand beaches.

It’s time to create new memories, capture Instagram-worthy sights, eat like royalty, and embrace the laid-back lifestyle. But, before you dip your toes, find the perfect place to stay that caters to your needs and desires.

Do not waste another moment to find your home-away-from-home in Santander.

Where to Stay in Santander at a Glance

If you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick glance at some of the best neighborhoods in Santander:

  • Santander Centro – best for sightseeing and nightlife
  • El Sardinero – best for beaches and surfing
  • Barrio Pesquero – best for seafood and relaxing
  • Magdalena Peninsula – best for nature and history
  • Puerto Chico – best for culture and museum hopping

Best Neighborhoods/Areas in Santander

Santander Centro: Where to Stay for Sightseeing and Nightlife

Want to be in the middle of all the hustle and bustle? Look no further than Santander’s city center.

This lively neighborhood exudes historic charm thanks to its intriguing 19th-century buildings. Overlooking the scenic bay, you couldn’t have asked for better views from your Santander hotel. You’ll have major attractions at your fingertips, including Plaza Porticada, Mercado del Este, and Cathedral de Santander.

This buzzing shopping and nightlife hub has ample opportunities for first-time visitors to embrace the culture and mingle with locals. El Sardinero and Playa de la Magdalena are gorgeous beaches within reach, with many high-end restaurants and swanky tapas bars.

Best Hotels in Santander Centro

Buildings and view of the Bay in Santander Centro

El Sardinero: Where to Stay for Beaches and Surfing

Come for the balmy beaches and stay for the vibes. El Sardinero is a famous haven for water babies and sunbathers. How about grabbing a sundowner from a bar and digging into tantalizing treats at restaurants with bustling terraces? If that sounds like a dream come true, make your way to El Sardinero’s golden sands.

This coastal neighborhood is also home to the two largest and longest beaches, giving way to a stunning boardwalk to absorb the scenery. Also, El Sardinero is your answer to fun water sports and adventures since it’s one of the best spots to surf in the city. Sign up for lessons or rent gear and hit the waves.

Best Hotels in El Sardinero

Barrio Pesquero: Where to Stay for Seafood and Relaxing

While Santander is a mecca for foodies, the charming fishing city of Barrio Pesquero reigns supreme for its delectable seafood. Here, you’ll find some of the most spectacular seafood restaurants in the city. Walk along the harbor as you watch boats come and go while the smell of fresh seafood serenades your senses.

So, if your aim is to take things easy, enjoy long, tranquil walks, and indulge in seafood to no end – this neighborhood has your name written all over it. As you wind along the promenade around the bay, you’ll end up at the Tabacalera Civic Center. This center is the largest interior vertical garden in Europe, seen from all floors of the building, plus there’s a terrace overlooking the bay.

Best Hotels in Barrio Pesquero

Magdalena Peninsula: Where to Stay for Nature and History

If nature and animals are more to your liking, then you can’t go wrong with the Magdalena Peninsula. This tranquil area is not only bursting with natural beauty, but it’s also well-connected with public transport, allowing you quick access to other attractions.

It’s a prime location for a laid-back stay in the Cantabrian capital. Here, you’ll also receive a heavy dose of rich history since the peninsula once served as a summer residence for the Spanish royal family. One must-visit site is The Royal Palace of La Magdalena, which is now open to the public, showcasing the ornate architecture of the early 20th century.

Palaces aside, La Magdalena Park features lush gardens and gorgeous coastal views, with an open-air museum and quaint zoo as a bonus. Learn all about the naval history of Santander at the museum and meet seals or penguins at the zoo.

Best Hotels in Magdalena Peninsula

Puerto Chico: Where to Stay for Culture and Museum Hopping

Known as the Little Harbor, Puerto Chico is the beating heart of Santander. This charming, bustling neighborhood is considered the Old Town of the city as well. The area offers picturesque views of the bay and is the gateway to many attractions, including Palacio de Festivales de Cantabria, a theater showcasing plays and music.

One historical landmark you must make time for is the opulent Palacio de la Magdalena, an ornate palace built in the early 1900s. You can also pop in at the Maritime Museum (Museo Marítimo del Cantábrico) or the Archaeological Museum (Museum of Prehistory and Archaeology of Cantabria) to learn about the culture and history of Santander.

Best Hotels in Puerto Chico

FAQs About Staying in Santander

Got more burning questions about places to stay in Santander? Perhaps the following FAQs will answer them:

How Long Should You Stay in Santander?

Two days is enough to explore the majority of the city.

When Is the Best Time to Visit Santander?

The summer months between July and August are hands down the best time of year to visit Northern Spain.

Hot Tip: Follow this in-depth guide on the best time to visit Spain for more insight.

Is There an Old Town in Santander?

Yes. Santander’s Old Town is known as Puerto Chico, located near the city center, just north of the marina.

What Is the Weather Like in Santander?

In general, the weather is partly cloudy year-round. The summers are comfortable and dry but hardly get as warm compared to the rest of Spain. The winters are long, cold, wet, and windy.

Hot Tip: Have a look at this Spain packing list for summer and winter to ensure you’re well prepared.

Wrapping Up: Where to Stay + Best Hotels in Santander

There you have it – some of the most outstanding Santander accommodations and areas for you to stay at. Which one of these neighborhoods is screaming your name? If you’re still on the fence, all you need to ask yourself is why are you visiting and what are your expectations.

Do you want to chill on the beach with a magazine in one hand and a cocktail in the other? Or do you prefer being out in nature, as silence and tranquility caress you? Whatever your choice, Santander is an excellent spot with beautiful sights and fantastic attractions – isn’t that all you need?

Next Up: Where to stay in Bilbao

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